Education is the fundamental element in ensuring long-term success for our children and a prosperous future for the state of Maryland and our country in the 21st century. It is essential that the education of our children is one of our nation's top priorities by providing the necessary investment from Pre-K to high school, through to our colleges and vocational schools.
I have worked to secure funding for early childhood education (including Head Start and Early Head Start), make higher education more affordable, and incorporate green job training into our Job Corps Centers. However, reforming education does not end with funding. I am committed to working hard this Congress to ensure that the No Child Left Behind Act lives up to its name. Making sure that the reauthorized legislation enables local schools to decide how to best measure student progress rather than relying on standardized tests, retains and increases the number of skilled teachers, and supports under-resourced schools, is critical.
When it comes to education throughout our district, improvements are being made as both Montgomery and Prince George's Counties made significant gains in the recent Maryland Assessments. Current reviews rank the state of Maryland number one for its public school system, but educational disparities remain an unfortunate reality. In particular, racial, ethnic, and economic disparities persist.
This economic crisis has only made these disparities more pronounced. Fourth District schools have faced many challenges in these economic times. This is why I have advocated for funding to retain teaching staff, upgrade school technology, and repair and construct schools. I also championed funding for Maryland Suppers, a program which provides dinner for students on free or reduced-cost lunch programs participating in after-school programs. Proper nutrition is the key to helping students perform at their best and is essential in these hard economic times as families struggle to make ends meet.
I have also worked to strengthen our school curriculums by supporting programs that promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects in our schools. STEM subjects are key to preparing our students to be competitive in the future workforce.
I will continue to work with local school administrators to provide federal support and craft policy initiatives to ensure that, together, we are meeting the needs of all Fourth District students to prepare them for a 21st Century global economy.